first breath after nearly drowning

i remember being on the beach in Cancun once, just looking at the
onslaught of waves coming into shore. it was an overcast day, and
the lifeguard had just blown his whistle furiously to get one foolish
swimmer out of the water. to my left, there were two other people
from the hotel who looked out upon the waves in a somber way.
from what i could make out, someone had nearly drowned there
a month ago in choppy waves just like these. i thought about how
much of an ordeal that was, for both the rescuers and the rescued.
but mainly, i thought about how that person must have felt after
bursting through the surface, on the brink of being lost to this
world forever in the midst of crashing waves. how they must
feel…

and in some ways, i use that scenario to explore that plateau of
clarity i get after not being able to write for a while. yes, the
dreaded ‘writer’s block.’ for some of us in that craft, it’s a simple
obstacle, one that doesn’t cause too much of a problem. for others
though, it can be akin to drowning. you don’t know how you’ll
get past that first sentence. you may not know where to take
your character next. the original premise for your work may
make you feel like you’re going in aimless circles. and so, all
of the other doubts start piling up, crashing in on you so much
that it makes you feel like you can’t breathe. and it’s not until
you have that breakthrough that you feel whole, that you’re
energized. and everything starts to make sense again.

of course, this analogy does help in the art of writing. but it
also aids you in the art of life. from Dostoyevsky’s newfound
purpose after nearly being executed, to J.K. Rowling nearly
being totally destitute before her success with the ‘Harry Potter’
series, there’s a huge list of examples of people nearly losing
themselves, literally and figuratively before punching through
the surface and taking in the air of success and renewed joy.
few things are sweeter than that. if you find yourself in that
state, do all you can to punch through the surface. and make
that first breath the one to give birth to better ones.

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